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The Big Picture
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Big Picture More at IMDbPro »

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11 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Nick Chapman - an indie-film pioneer?

Author: Dasher111 from New York, NY
3 April 2004

THE BIG PICTURE is a breezy satire of the movie business from the mind of writer/director Christopher Guest (BEST IN SHOW, A MIGHTY WIND). It tells the story of Nick Chapman (Kevin Bacon), a young film director who gets put through the Hollywood wringer. Studio executives, agents, and starlets all prey on Nick's naivete and he eventually sells out, neglecting his girlfriend and best friend in the process.

What's interesting about THE BIG PICTURE is its grassroots portrayal of how Nick finally launches his Hollywood career - by starting small, doing his own thing, and involving his friends. Those are basically the tenets of independent film, which boomed in the decade following THE BIG PICTURE.

Nowadays, many of those indie directors - among them Steven Soderbergh, Robert Rodriguez, and Christopher Nolan - are getting hired to do big-budget studio pictures. In fact, Soderbergh's "sex, lies, and videotape" was released the same year as this movie.

Was Nick Chapman's "Pez People" video responsible for the indie film movement? Not likely, but THE BIG PICTURE was certainly an advocate of its principles.



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14 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

funny, slightly uneven "insider movie"

7/10
Author: hbs from United States
6 September 1999

This movie has some slow moments, and I found the idea that Kevin Bacon's character, an aspiring directory, would leave his girlfriend (played by Emily Longstreth) for a bimbo-actress (played by Teri Hatcher and one of the film's weakest characters) pretty unconvincing. In general, I found the bimbo-actress subplot poorly done, and this was the slowest part of the movie. The other characters were done well, with an outstanding cameo by Martin Short as the aspiring director's agent -- the three scenes with Short would make the movie worthwhile by themselves in my opinion. J. T. Walsh was very good as well, as the fatuous studio head, and the gag at the end where the young director's career is revived was very enjoyable.

It's not as good as "The Player" or "Get Shorty", but if you like movies about making movies, you will probably like this one.

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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Nick Chapman - an indie-film pioneer?

Author: Dasher111 from New York, NY
3 April 2004

THE BIG PICTURE is a breezy satire of the movie business from the mind of writer/director Christopher Guest (BEST IN SHOW, A MIGHTY WIND). It tells the story of Nick Chapman (Kevin Bacon), a young film director who gets put through the Hollywood wringer. Studio executives, agents, and starlets all prey on Nick's naivete and he eventually sells out, neglecting his girlfriend and best friend in the process.

What's interesting about THE BIG PICTURE is its grassroots portrayal of how Nick finally launches his Hollywood career - by starting small, doing his own thing, and involving his friends. Those are basically the tenets of independent film, which boomed in the decade following THE BIG PICTURE.

Nowadays, many of those indie directors - among them Steven Soderbergh, Robert Rodriguez, and Christopher Nolan - are getting hired to do big-budget studio pictures. In fact, Soderbergh's "sex, lies, and videotape" was released the same year as this movie.

Was Nick Chapman's "Pez People" video responsible for the indie film movement? Not likely, but THE BIG PICTURE was certainly an advocate of its principles.



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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Overlooked classic

9/10
Author: jnunes-1 from Oakland, CA
29 April 2003

I've watched this many times, and feel that this ranks with the best work of Christopher Guest. Kevin Bacon is outstanding as the idealistic young director Nick Chapman, who falls prey to the jaded Hollywood lifestyle - long before he can afford it personally or financially. Martin Short's role as Nick's agent is hilarious, and other good performances are turned in by Jennifer Jason Leigh, Terri Hatcher, and many others. This is Spinal Tap for the film industry, and well worth a look.

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

The director

7/10
Author: jotix100 from New York
19 March 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Los Angeles is a city where one can find, almost at every turn, a director, a starlet, a producer, or a cinematographer if one happen to be in the right places. Nick Chapman, a young man from Ohio, is trying his hand at directing. We meet him as he is going to an award ceremony at an event where the best new short film directors are competing for a prize and a chance to make it in the business. Nick is not prepared for what happens after his film becomes the talk of the town.

Nick Chapman is in a relationship with Susan, an architect just starting her career. His good friend is Emmet Sumner, a cinematographer struggling to make it in the industry. Nick is being courted to sign in with different people so he can go to his next project. He has written a screenplay for a film that he wants to direct. Never, in his wildest dreams, he never imagined the strange world he is getting into, and the weird people he will have to deal with while getting his picture produced! For starters, Nick's agent, Neil Sussman, whom we meet during a luncheon at one of those trendy restaurants, is a creature from another planet.

The next person Nick gets involved with is Allen Habel, a producer that sees potential in Chapman. As Nick pitches the film, Allen is already changing the way he feels will attract viewers, which has nothing to do with the original concept. Allen wants to set the picture on a beach, not in a cabin in the woods, while it is snowing, as Nick has conceived it. To make matters worse, Allen invites the young man to a party at his house that turns out to be a disaster as Nick gets to meet the film capital's fauna and flora, and ends up losing Susan.

Nick gets dazzled at first, but when Allen Habel's business goes bad, he is left on his own. Added to all that, he doesn't have any money, so he has to look for any kind of job in order to survive. All his big shot friends drop him like a hot potato. No one will take his calls. Nick having broke with Susan and having betrayed Emmet, finds himself alone in the middle of all that phony world, until he meets a rock band and he makes a video of a song that becomes a hit. It is at this point Nick gets his creative powers back and as we leave him, he is directing his picture the way he wanted.

Christopher Guest, a witty genius in his own right, directed this movie, his first full length film. "The Big Picture" shows a great talented director that knows well that strange world of glitter and heartaches that is Hollywood. Christopher Guest has been involved in the movie industry for most of his life and it shows.

Kevin Bacon is an asset in any picture where he appears. His take on Nick Chapman is dead on. Mr. Bacon is an excellent actor, as he shows here. It is unfortunate Martin Short, who steals every scene he is in didn't get credit for being in the film. His agent must be a composite on the many characters the director, and him, must have met, at one time, or another.

Christopher Guest has a group of actors that are featured in his films. Michael McKean and Mr. Guest have a long history of collaboration. The late J.T. Walsh gives one of his best performances as Allen Habel. The rest of the ensemble cast is also notable, Teri Hatcher, Fran Dresher, and a goofy Jennifer Jason Leigh, among others.

Never having seen this film, we were lucky to catch it recently and it was worth the wait.

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

An early winner from genius Guest

10/10
Author: (mconklin@thegarritygroup.com) from St. Paul, MN
10 July 2001

Thank God for Christopher Guest. Anyone who loved him as Nigel Tufnel in Spinal Tap and has since appreciated his mockumentaries "Waiting for Guffman" and "Best in Show" should take a look back at The Big Picture. As with his other films, the humor is subtle and a bit "inside," but the more you see it, the more you love it. Kevin Bacon and J.T. Walsh are perfect, and Martin Short steals every scene he's in. (Added bonus: the Pez People song at the end, obviously sung by Michael McKean, sounds like Spinal Tap with keyboards instead of guitars. Very funny.)

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

An Excelent Comedy

10/10
Author: actappan from San Francisco CA
14 July 2001

This is a truly great film. Really. It's fun, and really quality filmmaking. My girlfriend swears I'm obsessed - but this is an opertunity to see some of today's familiar faces "before they were stars." If you like Altman's "The Player" you'll love this movie. The point of view is diferent - more comedic and a little less dark.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Under-rated film of the 80's

Author: pwalkerfm from United States
10 July 2010

This is an under-rated late 80's film that captures the changing entertainment scene of that decade, with much humor and irony.

While the usual "Hollywood is phony" theme exists here, that story is always interesting, and it really scores when it reminds us of how success can be gained and lost quickly.

Martin Short is the uncredited star here, with several hilarious scenes. All in all, a nice movie about movies, with some special surprise locations for movie buffs!

The late J.T. Walsh offers a subtle performance here, with one of my favorite lines...Bacon: "I'm from Ohio", with Walsh's comeback, "my first wife is from Illinois", as in everything outside of LA is one place. Perfect deadpan humor.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Bacon 'n' Guest, makin' their best!

9/10
Author: nixskits from Canada
19 December 2009

It's hard to believe it's been twenty years since this came out. Kevin Bacon is established as one of the best American actors (also, one of the greats who've never been nominated for an Oscar!). Teri Hatcher is the star of a huge television hit. Christopher Guest still makes brilliant films and gives his actors more freedom than almost any other director today. And my affection for "The Big Picture" only grows fonder as the time passes.

In "Rolling Stone" magazine's 1989 "Hot Issue", then newcomer Steven Soderbergh was profiled as that season's hot new filmmaker. One remark was about how students in LA based film schools have their works shown at big events, attended by many hot shots in the entertainment industry. Meaning, a young woman or man could have a "bomb" of sorts on their hands before even turning professional! Not the most nurturing environment for youthful talent.

Bacon's "Nick Chapman" gets the full treatment as a guy on the fast track after winning his school's big prize for his project. And things don't go wonderfully well after he starts meeting the movers and shakers in his new world. The late, great J.T. Walsh is a studio head (for the time being) who seduces Chapman into believing all his dreams are possible. Michael McKean is Chapman's friend, a cinematographer who isn't necessarily the first choice to shoot his debut. And John Cleese, Martin Short and Jennifer Jason Leigh have great turns as Chapman's different associates that can't really stop the grimly funny runaway train he's on until his self respect finally returns and he sees everything for what it really is.

Most films about film-making are not that good. This is a major exception to that rule. Very bitter, but also very sweet. Just like life!

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Want to make a movie? - This is the one to see!

6/10
Author: Neil Ferris (n.ferris@uea.ac.uk) from Norwich, England
23 April 1999

This film is a wonderful example of how to get a movie made in Hollywood.

Kevin Bacon stars as a hot new director, with a prestigious award to his credit who has one aim, to make his script his way.

What then ensues is a sequence of events that should serve as a warning to people wanting to make their own movie on what to be careful of.

Bacon's script starts as a simple movie of two couples on holiday together, while one half of them is having an affair, thanks to various obstacles it transforms into a trashy affair of beaches, cheerleaders and very little story, called Beachnuts.

While this happens Bacon's personal life is also falling apart thanks to the lures of Teri Hatcher's struggling young actress.

Finally, an extremely low-budget music video puts Bacon back on the map and this time he sticks to his guns.

The message for young movie-makers is, do not lose sight of what you want and be aware of the extreme fickleness of Hollywood, which this demonstrates exceedingly well.

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